Cloud Education Made Easy with Katie Bullard

Episode Summary

Katie Bullard is the president of A Cloud Guru, a cloud education platform. She’s also a board member at Conservice, ChildCareCRM, and Journyx, Inc. Katie previously served as president and chief growth officer at ZoomInfo (formerly DiscoverOrg), VP of marketing, product and corporate development at Mitratech, director of marketing at Accruent, and chief of staff and leader of corporate strategy at Dun & Bradstreet, among other positions. Join Corey and Katie as they discuss Katie’s tenure at A Cloud Guru, how three months feels like both three weeks and three years at the same time, how everyone has a different learning style and what A Cloud Guru is doing to accommodate all of them, how not knowing something makes us vulnerable whether or not we want to admit, what it was like for Katie to accept a new position only to find out six days later A Cloud Guru was acquiring Linux Academy, how A Cloud Guru has both B2B and B2C products, what it’s like to run a company founded by other people, and more.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

About Katie Bullard

As President of A Cloud Guru, Katie leads the sales, marketing, customer success, and partnership teams for the world's largest and most trusted cloud training platform.

Links Referenced:


Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Cloud Economist Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.

Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. I'm joined this week by Katie Bullard, newfound president of A Cloud Guru. Katie, Welcome to the show.

Katie: Hi, Corey, thanks so much for having me. I'm really excited.

Corey: So, at the time that we're recording this, how long have you been with ACG?

Katie: You know what, I think it's been almost exactly three months. It feels both like three weeks and three years.

Corey: Yes. And, surprise, a pandemic showing up in the middle of that seems to have made our sense of time all go a little bit wonky. Like oh, ACG, haven't you been there for eight and a half years by now? And no, no March just felt that way.

Katie: It is definitely a very interesting time. I was talking with my team last week, just in general, about how we're all feeling, and the word that we used was just off-balance. To that point I think, time has taken on a different meeting, our routines have taken on a different meaning, but the positive thing is, we're literally all in this together.

Corey: So, A Cloud Guru has been one of those companies that an awful lot of people not only know about, but have strong positive feelings for because, for better or worse, that's how an awful lot of us have learned various things about the Cloud. It's basically taught the world to Cloud. And what's always surprising when talking to people about the company is that, “Wait, you mean there are people who work there who aren't in front of the camera, teaching things eight hours a day?” It becomes this weird perception that when you listen to people who are teaching you things in an instructor setting, to forget that there's actually a company behind this. It's not just the people who are on camera, or who are teaching a particular course, but also there's an entire logistical operation. Historically, you had the founders, Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg, who were themselves involved in various video properties as well. So, it had a very small company feel. How big is A Cloud Guru?

Katie: So, we're now approaching 400 employees across the globe. About a quarter of those are our instructors, as you mentioned, but three-quarters of them are all of us who are behind the scenes. And what's really kind of funny is when I first started talking to Sam and Ryan about six months ago, the company had 100 employees. So, that gives you an idea of how quickly it's growing and scaling.

Corey: It's one of those business problems that there's virtually no one on the other side of. It's, “Wow, we're teaching people how to do a thing that is very clearly transforming an entire industry—or basically the entire series of industries.” It's hard to name a single sector that is not being radically transformed by Cloud to some extent, and the idea of teaching people to work within that new paradigm is one of those very rare things where there's really no one on the other side of that issue. Where in some cases, it’s, “Oh, buy this particular product to do monitoring.” “No, that person is doing monitoring the wrong way. Buy this other competing product.” 

In this case, the story of learned work in this new world, more effectively, it really then just comes down to a discussion of what is the most effective way for different people to learn. And an awful lot of folks respond super well to the idea of video instruction. Personally, that's never been the way that I tend to learn things best for me. It’s, I’m going to build something and get it hilariously wrong, and through doing that, that's my learning approach. But I've come to find that, talking to people both on this show and as I walk through the world, I'm very much in the minority. There's an awful lot of folks who find the idea of having an instructor-led lab-style session: here's what we're doing and how, to be a much more appropriate way of learning things correctly. And looking at my half-baked understanding of a lot of these technologies. I have to think that right.

Katie: Well, you know what's really interesting is I think this notion that we all have different styles of learning covers any sort of education spectrum, whether it's cloud education or math education, and I've only been here three months, but my first month here was the acquisition of Linux Academy. And as we've really dove into the two very different styles, actually, of the two companies and the two online education experiences, what we heard over and over again from customers and students was, we really love the video learning, the short, kind of, 20-minute sessions that it A Cloud Guru has really become known for, and/or we love the hands-on labs, sandbox environments, like, let me go play, focus that Linux Academy has had. And so, from our perspective, what we're trying to do is deliver as much value to our students in as many different forms—to your point because we all have different learning styles—as possible. I think that's one of the things that I got really excited about in my first week here was the opportunity to really do that to a level that both A Cloud Guru individually and Linux Academy individually had not done before.

Corey: What were you doing before you would up in A Cloud Guru?

Katie: So, I was actually the president at ZoomInfo, which was previously a company called DiscoverOrg. We acquired ZoomInfo; it was a data and content business as well, but we sold to sales and marketing professionals. And for the last four years, I've been president over there leaving marketing, product, engineering, actually IT, and got to see that company grow from about 200 employees to 1200 employees in a four-year period from 40 million in revenue to 400 million in revenue. And how you build a really great, quite frankly, content business in a software that delivers a ton of value to people who in many cases aren't sales or marketing professionals, that are entry-level. They're just trying to figure out how to do their job better. And that was one of the things I really liked about ACG was so many correlations. Totally different industry; different student profile, but in many ways, we're all trying to do the same thing, which is, figure out how to either be better at the job that we're doing now or learn a new job.

Corey: And that's always a scary thing. I learned to speak publicly, insofar as I'm capable of speaking publicly, years ago as a traveling corporate trainer for Puppet, which was an interesting series of coincidental experiences all wrapped into one. First, it's software, and you're doing live demos and software does what software does, by which I mean: break. It's also, at that point, was perceived by the students, who were generally systems administrator types, that this was the software that was coming to automate them out of a job, so they were not super thrilled from that perspective. And when people are paying top dollar for this, and they're already upset, and demos break, they don't have a lot of patience. So, you learn to deal extemporaneously with a lot of stuff, you have to be able to find a way to build commonality for people to relate to you because otherwise, you're never going to be able to teach them anything. 

And that was a heck of a learning curve that I had—learning cliff really, that I had to surmount and I somehow came out the other side somewhat intact. But it really gave me a keen appreciation for just how difficult education is, not because the technology or the subject matter itself is hard, though it is, but because there's so much of a human piece that is built on top of that, that I think it's incredibly overlooked by folks who've only ever been on the student side of the education system.

Katie: It's so true. And like you said earlier, it's scary. For somebody who's trying to learn something for the very first time, for any of us, that's a very vulnerable place to be. And so you want a safe environment to do that in a way that allows you the space and the grace to fail, to succeed. And I think that's what people gravitate to, honestly. 

I'll say for me personally, I don't come from a tech background. Actually, the first half of my career, I was in architecture and real estate—very different—and I ended up getting into a real estate software company, which is how I landed here. But in every job I had, I was having to do something that I had never done before. I remember when I got first asked to actually lead an engineering department. Honestly, Corey, if you had asked me what API stood for, I would have no idea.

Corey: It wouldn't have helped if you’d asked the question at Amazon because presumably, they pronounce it AH-pee the way they pronounced AMI is AH-mee; same story. Yeah.

Katie: [laughs]. I remember when I first got introduced to ACG I was like, “Oh, man. I sure wish I had known about this back when I was first starting to take on one of these organizations because I would have felt way more competent talking to my team at the time.”

Corey: So, I have to ask. Growing up one of the seminal moments of my childhood was my dad, who demonstrates the same sort of impulse control that I do, decide it’d be fun one day to go out, and buy a trampoline for us. And my mom came home and saw this trampoline, and given that she has relatives who work in emergency rooms said, “Absolutely not. What do you mean this thing just showed up here? This was not the arrangement we had.” Long detailed story short. How similar to that story of, “Wait, you bought what?” Was you showing up and finding, “Oh, you know that whole Linux Academy thing? So, funny story: we bought that.”

Katie: [laughs]. Well, to be fair, I did get a preview of it; not before I said yes, but before I actually started.

Corey: Gotcha. It's one of those, like, “So, you'll laugh about this later but…”

Katie: But I will tell you a funny story. So, I was actually in Costa Rica when I accepted the job at ACG this was back in October—

Corey: Oh, vacations. I remember we used to be able to take those.

Katie: I know, I know, it was crazy, back when we could travel. So, I was in Costa Rica. And I remember telling Sam, “I'm so excited. I'm so, so, so excited, but I've got to move from Portland to Austin. I'm on vacation. Let me start in January.” 

So, we agreed on this date in January. And it was literally six days later that he called me, and he was like, “So… uh, you can still officially start in January, but there's this thing that might be happening,” and I had actually just gone through a really similar acquisition with DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo, like, literally, deja vu scenario. He's like, “and we would really just love your expertise. So, even if you're not full time, just come help us. You don't know the business yet, but you at least know the questions to ask.” So, I was like, “Yeah, yeah. No problem. I'll do it ‘part-time’—” I'm putting this in air quotes right now, “—I’ll do that part-time until I start in January.” Of course, that it was a full-time job from November on until we actually announced the acquisition and did it. But yeah, honestly, it was really, really exciting. I couldn't complain.

Corey: So, one thing that's been interesting to be is Linux Academy has always been, I guess, the names in the space of, “Learn to Linux,” which again, at one point sounded like an awfully good idea. I should learn to Linux. And then containerization and serverless took off, and now it turns out that most people don't really need to know the intricacies of a given operating system to build a functioning application. This is a good thing. But looking at this now, how aligned are Linux Academy and in A Cloud Guru before the acquisition, and what is the reason other, “Than, hey, we found this thing on sale in the impulse buy aisle.” I don't get the sense that that's the kind of purchase it was. What drove that acquisition?

Katie: So, it's really interesting. It's interesting that you asked that question because that was the problem that Linux Academy had is that there was a perception that their training was Linux focused, which it had been when the company first started, but actually, the majority of Linux Academy’s training is cloud training: AWS, Azure, GCP, just like A Cloud Guru’s, but they had taken a slightly different approach, I think because of their underpinnings and their foundation. They were really, really strong on hands-on labs, cloud playgrounds for those cloud service providers. Where ACG was, I would say more geared towards the novice. So, the—me—new person coming in trying to learn cloud and maybe get their first job there. Linux Academy was much stronger with intermediate and advanced DevOps professionals, but it wasn't actually Linux content focused anymore. And so, it's interesting, as we were talking to the CEO at Linux Academy, he was saying, “We were probably going to rebrand anyway this year because we kept running into that issue.”

Corey: So, we look at Linux Academy, and at the time it was founded, that was absolutely the right name because learning Linux was what people needed. Do you think that there's a future story where A Cloud Guru suffers the same problem because, “Oh, ‘Cloud’. That sounds about as contemporary as ‘mainframe.’” At some point, the terminology changes the way people view computing, and their relationship to it changes. Do you think that this is going to be one of those enduring brands that lasts a century and still has high relevance or do you think at some point, you're going to be looking down the possibility of a rebrand based upon cultural shifts?

Katie: Yeah. I think typically when that happens, two different paths confront a company. One, yes, is that you rebrand. And companies rebrand, especially in the B2B space—less so and B2C, and we're 60 percent B2B, 40 percent B2C, so we have to consider both—but in the B2B space a rebranding is relatively common every five to ten years, or as market dynamics change and as those things happen, so certainly that's an option. 

The other thing, though, that can happen is that if you do a really good job, the perception of a company is not so much tied up in the name of it as it is the value that it delivers. But there are a lot of consumer brands that have a very specific name, that now we just use the name even though the name doesn't actually reflect what they—

Corey: The Kleenex or a Coke.

Katie: —yes, exactly. Because there's such a strong identity associated with that name. I'm not saying I know which of those is what is going to happen, or when, or if that's ever the case, but I think as business leaders, you're always looking at that and thinking about that, and the good thing is, you have options.

Corey: One thing that I find a little bit perplexing, that you just mentioned, is that it seems that you have two very different target customers. One is the B2B or business-to-business story, where you're selling training services to companies, and building out a training program with them, and the other is the B2C: the typical consumer, or as I sometimes disparagingly think of some of them, the angry children of Reddit. And it seems like those are two very different constituencies, despite the fact you're teaching the exact same material with the exact same curriculum style to both of those groups. How you approach them and how those businesses look winds up being something very different. I mean, I think originally when I first started talking to the ACG folks years ago, there was no real story that was beyond just selling directly to individuals. That has very clearly changed. How is the company, I guess, differentiating between those two groups, and is there a target future in which one of those constituencies gets left behind?

Katie: Yes, originally A Cloud Guru started really directly to the student, selling individual licenses, courses directly to the student. Over time, what we found was we would find multiple students who worked at the same company, and who were using their own funds to learn, let's say, AWS, or Azure because it would help them at their current job. And from that sprung the idea of the business product. So, the first part to your question is actually that they are two different products. 

So, our B2B product and our B2C product are actually different. The courses are the same, but the features, the functionality, and the ability to use that content is different. If let's say, I'm a CTO of a large organization that's trying to understand across the board all of the skills across my team. Where I'm strong, where I'm weak, and where they should focus learning. Those are features and functionality that we have for our business customers that we don't necessarily need for an individual student. 

So, that's the first part to your question, which is, it's actually two different products that we're selling for two different audiences. The second, though is, I think at the end of the day, the goal is the same. And I think that's what allows us to have a consistent message and brand in the market, which is whether I am an individual trying to better myself, or I am a CTO, trying to upskill my team, what I am trying to do is improve my modern tech skills for some different purpose. But that's it. I'm trying to improve my modern tech skills. 

And so, as we have grown, as we've gone from, as I mentioned, 100 to 400, what we're starting to think about is not only how does the product become specialized, which is already in place, but how do our teams actually become specialized around each of those audiences? How does the messaging become specialized for each audience, but also under this single umbrella of teaching the world to Cloud? And it's actually—it's really exciting to me. There are a lot of companies who've done this really well. Atlassian has done this really well. Twilio has done this really well. There are companies out there that forever maintain a really strong B2C and B2B base. And from our perspective, it's actually the student, the B2C consumer, that is the foundation of any business product that we have because that's the core person, at the core—individual who is benefiting and getting value from the specific content.

Corey: So I want to talk about New Relic. I know you're probably thinking I should talk about other monitoring companies these days that are a bit more in the news. And a month ago, I would have agreed with you, but New Relic did something a little out there. They reworked basically everything. They went open source, they made it so you can monitor your whole stack in one place and they simplified their pricing dramatically. There's even a free tier with one user and a hundred gigabytes per month. Totally free. Check it out at Observability made simple.

Corey: Enterprise software says a lot, but none of what that says generally is a positive experience. So, coming at it from the student-first perspective, and then finding something that scales upward is, I would argue, at least from my perspective, the right direction. In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I should point out that at The Duckbill Group we offer ACG subscriptions to all of our staff who want them, to learn how all of these cloud things we're talking about works, all the time. I personally haven't sat through most the lectures because (a) my attention span issues and (b) again, as mentioned, my preferred way of learning is to build something hilariously wrong, authoritatively state that is correct, and then wait for the internet to correct me and teach me what I should do instead. That's not as scalable as one might hope.

Katie: Well, we'll work on that. We'll work on that next. Hey, you know what? Have you tried Linux Academy's platform as well as ACGs?

Corey: Not yet. To be honest, it comes down to the entire model of the constrained environment, which, again, I appreciate, but my approach has always been a… I piece together 15 different blog posts, some of which were last updated in 2008, and at the end of it, I have something that, let's not kid ourselves, monstrous, but it kind of works. And then I show it to people and their response is, “Oh, I'd love to see what you've built. Oh my god, where did you come up with this?” And they come up with a variety of euphemisms for, “Who hurt you?” And that's how I tend to learn best. I don't recommend this to anyone. In fact, I would recommend doing anything other than this approach. 

Which does bring me to a somewhat interesting point. I talk to a lot of folks who are eyeing, not just A Cloud Guru, but learning Cloud in general, from a perspective of not so much wanting to learn the underlying fundamentals of how it works, and why it works, and what makes this good, but rather their outcome, and the goal they have in mind is to get certifications from one or more providers. And that's a world that I've never spent much time in. Whenever I see certifications, it's down to people trying to qualify for the next tier of partner status by having enough certified staff or, alternately, people relatively early in their career looking for ways to demonstrate that they know this technology and get a jump on things. But once there's a certain level of baseline knowledge and experience, and a piece of paper that says that you are experienced with these things is less of a certification, and more of a resume showing a bunch of similar projects that you've worked on historically, it feels to me like the value of certifications becomes a little bit oversold. I don't know that I'm right on that at all, but I'm curious to get your thoughts on it.

Katie: I think you're right, in that the value of certifications varies depending on your stage, both your stage in your career, but also the stage of the company. So, in one of the examples you said, let's say—and this is an actual example of a student we had—I was somebody who used to work at a bowling alley, and I realized that I want a new career. I see a path, tech is the place of the future for me to go, but I don't know where to start. And I need to learn, and to position myself to get that first job in the industry. Certifications have a very different and very important value in that scenario. 

Now, let's say I work for a Fortune 100 company; I'm a senior architect at a Fortune 100 company, and we are migrating—and don't take any of this personally—from AWS to Azure. Or we're bringing on Azure as one of our providers. And so now I've got to learn a new cloud technology that I didn't know before. In that scenario, the certification isn't really in and of itself what I'm after or what's valuable. It might be a symbol that I've learned this, but when we're selling into enterprises like that, who are trying to skill their teams, certification is actually not the primary thing we're focusing on.

Corey: For me, certifications have always been useful insofar as the actual test: pass, fail, whatever, for me at least, didn't make much difference, but the things you had to learn to make a serious attempt at that certification was where the value laid. The challenge, too, is in some cases, you see people teaching to the test, which means okay, now you're entirely going to succeed or fail based upon how adequate a job that certification itself does of encapsulating the knowledge someone needs.

Katie: Yep, I totally agree.

Corey: Something you just touched on is the idea of expanding into a variety of different cloud providers, which from a training institution like you're doing is absolutely the right move of being able to address whatever it is in the world of cloud someone wants to do, you being the de facto place to go to learn that makes sense. I personally don't have a strong opinion, as far as which cloud provider someone should use. This entire show and most of what I do tends to be more agnostic than people are led to believe. I just have been drawn, in a business sense, to where the expensive billing problem is, and that's historically always been AWS. Now, as that changes that may have changed on my side, too, but right now my approach is and remains, pick a single provider, I don't care which one, and go all in, whether that's you learning something, whether that's a company deciding what to build on top of, and there are some exceptions to that, but that's the general course I tend to take. What are you seeing as you look at both the individual learners expressing interest in multi-cloud—and companies as well going down that path—what is the actual state of what people are interested in learning today.

Katie: So, it's very dependent on the maturity of the organization as it relates to cloud adoption. So, if I am a legacy enterprise software company, I'm trying to get everything from an old on-prem software to the Cloud, I'm typically going with a single provider; I'm going all in. It's a brand new skill set for everybody to learn; we want to make this as low-risk as possible, and we will tend to see those go with a single provider. For larger and more mature organizations, what we're actually seeing is much more of a move to multi-cloud. So, specific cloud technologies have specific strengths in different areas, and as the infrastructures being built out, they're leveraging each provider. And so we're seeing demand from our students go up across all cloud providers, and we're seeing demand, especially in the enterprise space, for multi-cloud training going way up.

Corey: What is driving that? Is that for workloads that are going to be spanning multiple providers? Is it for different divisions or different groups are using different providers? In other words, is this the same people that they want trained on multiple clouds? Or is it different teams that they want trained on different clouds?

Katie: It's a little bit of both. So, in some cases, yes, it's different teams being trained on different clouds. In other cases, what they're finding is, one cloud provider is really exceptional at one thing, and another cloud provider is really good at another thing, whether it's, like, machine learning and AI, versus core infrastructure, and so they're leveraging pieces of the various clouds to build a best of breed solution.

Corey: That tends to be a relatively reasonable approach to take. Different cloud providers do specialize in different things. Some specialize, for example, in giving things terrible names, others specialize in turning things off when you're becoming dependent upon them. But none of these things are immune from sarcasm and stark, but at some point, you have to put the jokes away and actually get down to work.

One last topic I want to talk to you about. What was it like to come in as the president of a company that until now has been founder led—the people who envisioned this, dreamed it up, spent all the sleepless nights building this—now suddenly, you've come in and you are effectively running an organization that, until now, has been this organically grown thing? What does that like from a cultural perspective?

Katie: Well, it was not quite as black and white as that. Sam and Ryan obviously founded the company back in 2016, I think now, but they actually opened their US operations in late 2017 in Austin and brought a COO on at that point in time, to really build out the US operations—Sam is based out in Melbourne, Australia, and Ryan's up in London—and so to be honest, they had really started to think through how to blend their exceptional passion, and understanding, and entrepreneurial spirit that created ACG with bringing in some outside expertise for things that they hadn't done previously. So, I cannot say that I'm the first one who has come in and done that, in any way shape or form. What I love about working with Sam and Ryan, and this was really why I agreed to come on board for—well, there were lots of reasons I came on board. Mainly because the customers love the product. And that's a special place to be, but the other reason was, I think we all really understood what our strengths were. Like, I'm never going to be an instructor. You will never see me teaching somebody Kubernetes. [laughs]. I'm never going to be developing the software itself, but when you can work with a team that are really egoless in every situation and understand where strengths are, that's really amazing, and I could not imagine coming into a company and being able to be as successful as I can be if I didn't have a CEO or founder who had that passion for the business that they had built.

Corey: That's an interesting perspective to take on it, and it's absolutely something that resonates with me. I am much, much, much earlier slash smaller in the scale of running a small business. I went from being just me to taking on a business partner. Now we have a number of staff, but we are nowhere near the scale of bringing in entire, basically, executive teams to run these things. It's one thing that's always been extremely obvious just in the interactions I've had with ACG, was that Sam and Ryan were very clearly running around with their hair on fire at every possible opportunity. I don't think I've ever been to a conference with one of them, where there wasn't a line of 200 people waiting to get a selfie with Ryan and shake his hand. He's the Mr. Rogers of Cloud is the expression I’ve heard.

Katie: Oh my gosh, can I just tell you, I went to re:Invent before I had officially started—Sam said you have to go to re:Invent—

Corey: Oh dear.

Katie: —and just watch the Ryan phenomenon, and I did, and it was insane.

Corey: There's nothing quite like it. He's the Mr. Rogers of Cloud; everyone loves him because he's the person that taught them the thing that got them their career.

Katie: Yeah, which is so special. Yeah.

Corey: Oh, yeah. And it's nice to see them actually taking a step back because it was either that or be dead of a heart attack in five years because there's so much work that was going into this. A while back, I was doing periodic release reviews. Every month there would be a video for ACG of some release Amazon did, and I would, in my typical fashion, make fun of it. And for the first one, Sam flew out here to San Francisco for the day, and we all wound up having a video crew, and we wound up getting it dialed in just right. 

And it was, “How do you have time to do this?” And he said, “Well, it's busy, but we make it work.” This was over lunch afterwards, and midway through that question, we were interrupted by someone who had walked up and said, “Excuse me, this is going to sound bizarre. Are you Sam Kroonenburg.” And, yep, here we go. It was the ‘recognized in public problem.’

Katie: And they're so humble and they're so meek, I love it. But you know what? You think about, whether it's like your third-grade teacher or somebody likened it to your Peloton trainer that you watch every day. You become so connected, emotionally connected to these people that you know through a screen, who honestly change your life, or help you reach some goal, whatever that goal is, and I think that's what, honestly, makes this company so special.

Corey: I think that's probably something that I would not question in the least. Normally whenever someone says, “And that's what makes this company special.” My immediate response is, “Well, let's go ahead and snark on it.” But there's so little to snark about with respect to ACG. It's a positive mission; I’ve never met an unhappy ACG customer, and I don't disagree with anything I've ever seen come out of you folks. 

It's absolutely aligned with something the world needs, especially right now, in this time of pandemic. And that's one last topic I want to hit before we call this an episode. Obviously, no one wants to turn the pandemic into a marketing story, but what have you seen as far as business changes to ACG since suddenly no one's allowed to go outside anymore, we're not allowed to hire video crews to come into these places, so surprise, everyone's their own one-person video crew? What have you seen on the production side? And what have you seen from the customer demand side?

Katie: Well, first, let me just say that I think as a company ACG, we're dealing with all the same stuff that every company is dealing with. There's so many things that are just literally not in any of our control right now. We are all trying to find balance in a very off-balanced world where we don't see our co-workers the same way we did, we don't see our family, we don't have the same outlets that we have, so that is a struggle for everyone. I think where we have tried to focus is there are a lot of people who right now, for terrible reasons, are in a position that they either have more time because they either don't have a job or they have more time because they aren't commuting into their job, and we can offer something to them in that time period that will help them be positioned for an even better opportunity when we all get through this. 

And I was talking to my sales team last week because, honestly, we all have this discussion. It's a really weird time to try to sell. It's a really weird time to try to tell somebody to spend any money at all. And so what we've really tried to focus on is how do we have empathy for what our students are going through, and what the businesses are going through? And how do we simply provide value in an even more important way now? 

So, you asked: “what did we see?” I will say right when everyone had to start working from home, to be honest, we saw a big spike in demand because one either had the time or in the case of businesses, they couldn't do in-person trainings anymore at all. And so they needed to get some sort of online training for their students. What that is going to be down the road, and what the ripple impacts of all of this is, I think none of us really know. And so what we're trying to do is just to make sure that for our customers, and for our students, we're continuing to be there, we're continuing to give them an education that is going to help them when we all get through this.

Corey: These are scary times, and having ways to upskill remains important. So, if people want to learn more about what you're up to, what you folks are doing, or basically hear your thoughts on a variety of things, where can they find you?

Katie: Sure. The website for the company is If you put in you'll also get to the same place, but is the best place to get information. We've got a really active Twitter account, LinkedIn account, and Instagram account. So, encourage everybody to check us out on social media.

Corey: I did not know you had an Instagram account.

Katie: Yes, we do.

Corey: That one's definitely new, and I will put links to all of those in the show notes.

Katie: Sounds great.

Corey: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I appreciate it.

Katie: Thank you, Corey. I really appreciate it.

Corey: Katie Ballard, president of A Cloud Guru. I'm Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. If you hated this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts and a comment telling me which cloud service I should learn next.

Announcer: This has been this week’s episode of Screaming in the Cloud. You can also find more Corey at, or wherever fine snark is sold.

This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.

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